Bajans defend role in Saint Lucia poll

Barbados Today:-Political consultant Hartley Henry has defended the involvement of Barbadian experts in the recent general election campaign in St Lucia, arguing that Caribbean consultants who are recognized as authorities in their field should be embraced by the region.

Henry’s stance echoed that of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley who faced strong criticism over her possible involvement in the campaign during a visit to the sister Caribbean nation.

While protesting that “I ain’t canvass, I ain’t walk, I ain’t went pon no platform, I ain’t speak publicly” during her trip to Castries, Mottley told a meeting of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) St Philip branch on Sunday night she saw nothing wrong with Caribbean nationals participating in the election process in other regional states.

Speaking today on the radio call-in programme Down to Brass Tacks, Henry gave the thumbs up to the “four or five Barbadians” who had travelled to St Lucia to work on the successful campaign of United Workers Party (UWP) ahead of yesterday’s general election.

Regarded as one of the region’s top political consultants, Henry argued that political consultancy had the potential to become a thriving industry, earning valuable foreign exchange for Barbados.

The political strategist, whose services are utilized by major parties in a number of Caribbean countries, noted that 15 to 20 years ago political consultants were brought in from the United States at a time when the profession was seen as a “most revered and respected” one.

Henry made specific reference to two local consultants who had replaced expatriates in the field – Lucille Moe, the daughter of former Attorney General the late George Moe and Debbie Hughes, a former press secretary to late Prime Minister Tom Adams.

He said Moe had specific skills in what is considered in the business as the “ground war”, while Hughes had expertise in crafting election messages.

He stressed they both had been part of his operations for years, and dismissed the suggestion that they were sent to St Lucia by the BLP.

Pointing out that as many as 13 Barbadians had been on the ground in
St Lucia during the elections of 1997, 2001 and 2006, the political consultant expressed surprise at the negative comments expressed by detractors.

Henry disclosed that over the past 15 years every manifesto and every poster for elections in the Eastern Caribbean had been printed by a Barbadian company, adding that the theme song for the UWP campaign this year was penned and sung by two-time calypso monarch John King, with Barbadians as the backup singers.